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No 4 (June 96/Juin 96/Juni 96)
The protection of individual rights in the Single Market was taken a step further by the Court of Justice in an important ruling of 30 April 1996 (1) . The ruling confirms the case law onprotection of individual rights arising from Internal Market rules in the Court's "Brasserie du Pêcheur" and "Factortame" rulings (2) . The new case concerns the failure of Belgium to notify to the Commission rules laying down technical requirements for alarm systems to be sold in Belgium. The Court's ruling clarifies the rights that individuals may invoke when Member States have not notified new draft technical rules.
Member States are required to notify new draft technical regulations to the Commission under Council Directive 83/189/EEC. The objective of the Directive is to prevent the creation of new national obstacles to intra-Community trade. Member States are also required to postpone the adoption of the draft technical regulation for 3 months from the day the Commission has received their notification. This allows the Commission and other Member States to examine and propose modifications to the new draft technical regulations.
In the Belgian case the issue at stake was exactly what rights individuals could derive from the Directive. The Court found the above-mentioned obligations of the Directive unconditional and sufficiently precise to be invoked by individuals directly before national courts. If these obligations were invoked against a national regulation which had been adopted without prior notification or without respect of the duty to postpone its adoption, the regulation would be unenforceable against the individuals. This interpretation of the Directive follows the interpretation of the Commission as stated in its Communication concerning the non-respect of certain provisions of the Directive (3) and confirms the Court's case law on individuals' rights in the Single Market developed in the `Francovich' case (19 November 1991) and the `Brasserie du Pêcheur' and "Factortame' cases referred to above.
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(1) Case C-194/94 of 30/4/1996.
(2) See Single Market News N.3 of April 1996, p.2 and 3
(3) See EC Official Journal N.C245 of 1/10/1986, p.5.